City So Real


This four-hour series captures the city of Chicago at a pivotal moment as residents grapple with a divisive mayoral election alongside the trial of the police officer who killed teenager Laquan McDonald. Documenting the city from multiple vantages, City So Real highlights the experiences of candidates and citizens alike to consider how issues of race manifest across the political spectrum and in everyday lives. From barbershops and family reunions to political press events and street protests, director Steve James traverses the city’s many neighborhoods, entering public and private spaces with equal interest. The events unfolding in Chicago, and the many perspectives on them, more broadly represent a country at a crossroads where divisions between views and lived experiences hold society back from potential change. In this dynamic portrayal, the depiction of a volatile existence is fueled not by facts and statistics, but by individual voices.  ST


Steve James


Zak Piper, Steve James

Executive Producers

Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Alex Kotlowitz, Gordon Quinn, Betsy Steinberg, Jolene Pinder


David E. Simpson, Steve James


Jackson James, Steve James

Release Year


Festival Year



United States

Run Time

118 minutes


Partially subtitled